A couple weeks ago, Alicia Keys performed her new song “Hallelujah” on SNL. The chorus catches my attention.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, let me in
I’ve been praying but I’m paying for my sins
Won’t you give me a sign if I lose my mind?
Woah, hallelujah, let me in
I don’t know the background story of the song or her intentions, but here’s what I get from it: Our actions have consequences, and sometimes that can make us feel far from God.
Think of it this way: If you break a friend’s trust, will God forgive you? If you steal money from your employer or set someone’s house ablaze, can He forgive you then? Or what if you rear end someone going 60 in a 35? Will He extend His mercy?
Absolutely. If you’re genuine in asking His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). But does that mean you won’t experience side effects? Unlikely. It’s quite possible you’ll face a fine, get fired, ruin relationships or do time behind bars.
The Bible is full of stories about people who believed in God, asked His forgiveness for their sins and looked forward to eternal life in heaven, but who still faced punishment for their sins.
You might think of the story of King David who, after committing adultery with Bathsheba and indirectly killing her husband, mourned the death of the child he had with her. He also lost his own wives and faced public disgrace (2 Samuel 12:7-20).
There was also Samson in the book of Judges. God gave him great strength to deliver Israel from the Philistines, yet Samson wasted much of his potential and ended up giving away the secret of his strength to the woman he loved, Delilah. Because of that, his strength was taken away. The Philistines gouged out his eyes and bound him, and it was only at his lowest point that Samson recognized his need for God. In the end, he did begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines but had to give up his life to do it.
Sin is falling short of God’s perfect standard, going against His best for us. It’s a direct offense to a holy God, so we should confess it. We can also be confident we’re forgiven (Isaiah 1:18; 43:25). But that doesn’t remove the consequences. As Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Facing the music doesn’t mean God is far from us, though. It’s God’s way of correcting us and trying to get us to turn back to Him. His discipline shows His love for us because He doesn’t want us to keep making the same mistakes and not learn from them. It’s like a parent training and guiding a child. It’s also motivation to steer clear of sin to the best of our ability. We might even find our faith increases when we rely on God to get us through whatever consequences we’re facing.
Are you in the consequence phase? Remember God is closer than you may think.